Bird Quotes: "Cocktails for Two"

I've only found two instances of Bird quoting the 1934 Arthur Johnston/Sam Coslow tune "Cocktails for Two," and they both were recorded within two weeks of each other at the end of 1945. The song appears in Murder of the Vanities (1934), released the year after the end of Prohibition with the repeal of the 18th Amendment as a result of the ratification of the 18th Amendment on December 5, 1933.

The78prof on YouTube has provided an invaluable service in collecting the charted hits of American popular music in the early and mid-20th century, and a significant percentage of Bird's quotes can be identified as hit songs from the 1930s, which coincides with his formative adolescent years

Duke Ellington's instrumental version from '34 was a hit and inducted into the GRAMMY Hall of Fame in 2007; the only other version that received the same treatment was Spike Jones's from '45, which was recorded later and inducted earlier (1995, over a decade before Ellington's). Jones's version was a bigger hit, which is unsurprising given the slapstick comedic treatment and mainstream (white) popularity of the entertainer, and we are also able to view a theatrical short version of it online. It gets weirder and weirder in Jones fashion, with a round of trading hiccups over big band hits followed by a climactic shout chorus with bartender and patrons chomping into oversized corn on the cob. A truly American and bizarre mid-century artifact:

When Bird quotes it in an NYC studio on November 26, 1945 on a warm up over "Cherokee" (eventually issued as "Warmin' Up a Riff"), I think it's the Jones version that is top of mind given its recent popularity. You can hear audible laughter in response to the quote, which I think is Dizzy, and Dizzy's own comedic onstage persona inevitably exists in some relation with the surreal Jones. Bird drops it into the top of the last A of his solo, transposing the line to the IV chord and then transposing a bit of the motif further in a moment that I imagine must have been influential for Sonny Rollins.

Just two weeks later on December 10, 1945 on the West Coast, Bird alludes to "Cocktails for Two" again on another session with Dizzy, this time on Dizzy's burning rhythm changes line "Shaw 'Nuff." Some context from John Burton's liner notes to Bird in L.A.:

NBC's "Radio City" was located almost directly across Vine Street from [Billy] Berg's, housing the studio where the Armed Forces Radio Service (AFRS) recorded "Jubilee" shows in front of controlled live audiences. Hosted by Ernie "Bubbles" Whitman, the Jubilee featured black, white and integrated ensembles, many with a distinctly modern bent. The recordings were assembled in various configurations and distributed to United States military installations on 16-inch, 33 1/3 rpm vinyl discs - 15 minutes per side - designed to be played back-to-back, making a half-hour radio show. Many were played only a few times, and their sound is excellent.

It happens so fast compared to the earlier "Warmin' Up a Riff" instance, but similarly is at the top of the last A section of Bird's last chorus before he passes the baton to Dizzy. There's almost no wind-up for this quote, which underscores how virtuosic the delivery is—Bird stops in the middle of a much-played line and interrupts it to immediately pivot to "Cocktails for Two" on the pick-up bar so that it lands in a logical place in the form. 

I imagine this moment must have gone largely unnoticed at the time given that it happens in a flash with little attention drawn to itself, but we can marvel at the ingenuity and rapidity again and again.

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If anyone comes across an instance of Bird quoting this tune elsewhere, please let me know. It seems like it's a one-off for 1945 since it was relatively topical following Spike Jones's hit, but I'd be curious to see if it crops up in any other recorded contexts.

While surfing the internet and drafting this blog post, I came across marvelous interpretations by Coleman Hawkins of both "Cocktails for Two" and "A Pretty Girl Is Like a Melody"—both Bird quotes.

Regarding the latter, Jazz Lives provides some insight into the background of the recordings for Varsity, which were co-produced by Leonard Feather and Warren Scholl, and feature Coleman Hawkins and Benny Carter under not-so-subtle pseudonyms ("Carleton Harkins" and "Billy Carton"). Brian Rust's Jazz and Ragtime Records, 1897-1942: L-Z lists the session as taking place in NYC on December 14, 1939.

There is a better-known version of "Cocktails for Two" from 1957 on Coleman Hawkins Encounters Ben Webster, but I was delighted to hear an earlier version dated from December 1946, which features a vintage bebop rhythm section: Milt Jackson, Hank Jones, Curley Russell, and "Maxwell Roach." It just seems like this tune was in the air at the time.